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It's only a week... Friday March 3, 2017

It's a collection of old stones and lime mortar, perched wet and lonely in a Welsh Valley between Betws-y-Coed and Capel Curig. The storage heaters have little effect on the chill that is not so much cold, more Victorian piety. This converted Chapel is my home for the next week. I've been here twenty four hours, and already I want to go home.

I needed a break. From the noise of life, of my life and those people who I think need me. I need to think they need me, otherwise I have no purpose. But their need is exhausting. And I'm selfish because one of those in need is my father, imminently moving in to a home after a pre-Christmas fall accelerated his dementia in ways we couldn't imagine. He will never be home again. And then there's my mother, dealing brilliantly with the uncertainty that 2017 has brought. Her mother suffered from Alzheimer's and knows the mixed blessing that residential nursing care can be. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year. Now the house they shared will be an empty, quiet place in which she will live out her days.

They are good people, worked hard, did their best by us kids; and still, life gives them disappointment. There's two ways to look at this of course. That life is nasty, brutal and short, so live every minute. Or, that life is nasty, brutish and short, so why bother? I'm doing all the right things, seeing my local mental health services each week, taking the meds. But they haven't passed my prescription to my doctor, or my doctor hasn't done anything with it, and as such I have come away to Wales without my Sertraline.

But it's only a week. What can happen in a week? I am stronger than this anyway, and that little pill might just be the placebo that I need to cope. That said, I know there's something chemically wrong in my head, so for the next few days I am sailing solo. It's a test. I win if I fail, fail if I win. And that's it. I want to be away. I want to be alone. But I don't want to be alone. And I don't want to be with me. Because I am selfish and small minded, and self-indulgent, and I need a drug to manage the things that other people seem to manage effortlessly.

The Old Man and the Sea
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Di Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 3:44am

Dearest Old Man ~
Your ability to analyze your situation is beyond measure. I say you win with your introspection; you win with your honesty; and you win with your ability to take action.
I bow to your fearlessness.

danielle Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 5:37am

Agree with Di, the fact you have recognised your feelings is a good sign. I have been there before when you know something is wrong, as I am sure many have. And the dark feelings. I hope you have some one to reach out to if those feelings get too much - you have all of us behind you, and I promise-the feelings aren't really true they are just thoughts and feelings so dont believe them. Hopefully you can relax a little whilst away it's a stunning area try some walks and focus on the colours or textures of things uou find I always find that helps me switch off. Lots of love

Anonymous Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 5:58am

But! You aren't selfish, small-minded or self-indulgent. The very fact you can speak with such clarity about your parents shows you aren't small minded. The fact that you have taken yourself away bravely for some time, in difficult circumstances, shows you aren't self-indulgent. And the fact you have shared openly what is going on for you right now means that many of us can identify and that helps us directly. That's is very far from selfish of you.

We will still be here when you return.

Dolphin Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 6:42am

I couldn't agree more - you beat me to it as I would have said the same. You are a brave man. May the week away give you the space to clear your head and focus on yourself. May I add my best wishes. And good luck with the cold!!

Rose Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 6:09am

Dear Old man and the Sea,
I hope that your time to yourself goes the best it can for you. For me your post was so nice to read It felt like someone could relate.

You seem to have great insight. I hope that you can keep hold of that if you start experiencing withdrawal and the brain starts being more derogatory due to chemical imbalance. The challenge is the week! I have faith in your ability to navigate it safely and successfully in what ever way you choose.

A big thank you from my selfish, self indulgent small minded bubble!

Mike Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 7:16am

Dear Old Man,

If you are where I think you are (Ty Capel) then this is the most wonderful place. Have stayed in the vicinity of Betwys many times and I always love the walking and solitude and the time to just be alone, even if it is hard sometimes. Good luck.

Keith Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 8:50pm

Well done. Good call. The place was great. I've booked my next one and hope it will be more successful.

Mike Sat, Mar 4th 2017 @ 6:42am

Try Ty Coch, the next up the hill. Totally different, but just as magical. Good luck with your journey.

Mary Wednesday Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 7:31am

Dear OM&TS, What a fabulously written post. My heartfelt sympathy to you and your mother over your fsther's dementia. My mother said, of a very dear friend of hers, that in reality, she had died when she went into the home, but her body lived on, so my mother could not properly grieve for another year until that body died too. That may be your feeling too. As for the drugs - they are no more a placebo than the insulin for a diabetic. Clinical depression is an illness: a chemical in balance in the brain. Do not look at others who "manage effortlessly"; look at the people who live courageously with long term conditions like asthma, heart conditions, fibromyalgia. Our condition is just as real. We are courageous too. Best wishes to you. Brilliant blog!

Hopeful One Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 7:54am

Hi OM&TS- a brave ,exellant courageous, honest and insightful blog. I am sorry to hear you are in a bad place for various reasons but the thing that I would make an effort to do in your 'retreat' is to swap you Inner Critic who is screaming'And I don't want to be with me. Because I am selfish and small minded, and self-indulgent' for a loving, kind, compassionate one.Each time you judge yourself you break your own heart.

This morning's sortie produced this laugh.

A family moved into a new neighbourhood One day the family overslept and their six-year-old daughter missed her school bus. The father, though late for work himself, had to drive her to school. Since he did not know the way, he said that she would have to direct him to the school. They rode several blocks before she told him to turn the first time, several more before she indicated another turn. This went on for 20 minutes - but when they finally reached the school, it proved to be only a short distance from their home. The father, much annoyed, asked his daughter why she'd led him around in such a circle. The child explained, "That's the way the school bus goes, Daddy. It's the only way I know."

Norman Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 9:39am

Thanks HO! I shall (with your permission) use that as an analogy to include in management training. In my experience bad managers "follow the bus" instead of thinking the situation through.

Rosemary Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 2:51pm

Love the trip to school story HO - very profound yet in such a simple, innocent way. Thanks for sharing that x

Leah Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 9:43pm

Hopeful This is not a joke but my life. I don't drive and have on many times taken people via the bus route. Your jokemaster has copied my life!!!

Ginny Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 8:33am

I agree with all the comments that is brilliantly well written and describes your circumstances, and I hope you find the break you have had will be beneficial to you. I am sure it will, and you will go home and look at things afresh. Sounds as if you needed a break from what is going on at home.
However, I struggled with what you said about being selfish, small minded etc and you need to take a pill to be able to cope with things that other people can. That said to me that we (I really) shouldn't need to have to take medication and should be able to cope with what life throws at us and cope without it like others do. I am not saying to anybody to just give up their meds, by the way. I think most of us know that is not a good idea, a lot of us have probably tried it, but it will be interesting to know the effect of not being table to take your sertraline for a week will have. Whether you may emerge stronger and not need it? I don't know, and neither do you, but I would be interested to know, so perhaps another blog when you come back? Definitely a time of reflection, and enjoy the rest of your time relaxing

Wyvern Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 9:03am

Dear OM&TS
Your post really resonates with me too. My sister has chosen to look after our mother at home; mother has dementia. I could not do what she does. Neither could my other sister. I visit when I feel I can - about once a month for a couple of days at present. Any more would be physically and mentally more than I can manage. What my sister does is impossible for me.
I too take Sertraline. I'm now generally in a pretty good place mentally, my Moodscope scores are consistently higher than they've ever been. I need to keep taking my Sertraline for when things slip in my world - to stop me from diving down into the pit again. I know this, I've tried it without the little pills. It doesn't work. I get ill again. As Mary W said, it's like the insulin for a diabetic. With it, they can be fine, without it, they become ill very quickly.
Thank you for your post and its honest expression of your feeling.

Jul Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 9:04am

Dear Old Man and the sea. You may be back now from your week's solitude. Your writing is good and I think you may have written before? Do you find writing therapeutic? I was alarmed to read you had gone away without your prescription medication. If you got on Ok without it, then fine but I thought you couldn't stop taking anti depressants just like that? Someone must have told you at some stage in your life that you are selfish, self indulgent etc and if not, then you must be telling yourself these things (as we all do at various times). Do you know which it is? As Hopeful One said, the inner critic (wherever it stemmed from ) should be swapped for a loving kind one. I hope you feel better soon and able to cope with your life. Julxx

Eva Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 9:05am

Hi OMATS, I used to work in Capel about 20 years ago, it's a beautiful place, the local pubs do great food, I seem to recall that the Bryn Tyrch was mostly vegetarian. If you nip in for dinner or lunch you can still be alone but amongst others, that may help.

I have just read a book called Rest which is a scientific look at the benefits of good rest, daily and holidays. Rest being time spent relaxing or being creative, indulging in hobbies and activities away from work. And how many 'successful' people throughout history and today thrive on a good rest principle. It nourishes and helps to build the strength and endurance you need for daily life and struggles or challenges. Going on holiday is really necessary to give you space, perspective, refreshment, it's not a selfish thing to do, rather you could congratulate yourself on giving yourself the time and space to regroup in what must be a hard time for you.

It's a shame about the meds not coming through in time, go well and breath easy. Maybe use some of this time to remind yourself that your inner critic can be dismissed. I try to imagine myself as another person and ask myself if I would make the same judgements about them in the same situation, I never would I treat them with compassion and love and so now I try to apply that to myself.

Andrea Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 9:20am

Please don't beat yourself up about this situation with your parents . It is out of everyone's control and you are all managing it the best way you can . If you try to look after yourself this week with food, maybe sit by a fire in a pub , buy a hot water bottle and go out walking when you can, you might feel stronger when you go home . Life is difficult and throws us many curveballs but there are good bits to be enjoyed too. Sending you good wishes and all the luck in the world for the next week and in the future

Leah Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 9:22am

The old man and the sea
What a intriguing blog. The feelings your writing has evoked are very relatable. Your words conjure images and situations that are familiar,
Thanks so much. I hope now you are home you feel better after your time away.

Orangeblossom Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 9:44am

Hi OMAS thanks for the brilliant blog which I enjoyed. As Mary Wednesday says, your medication is more than placebo. I feel, maybe erroneously, that you are suffering from a distinct lack of self-acceptance. I struggle with this from time to time. That may be why your blog clearly resonated for me. Thanks for the blog. Hope that you enjoyed the rest of your break in Wales which is where we live. Yes it is beautiful & tranquil, but gets very wet sometimes.

Norman Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 9:49am

Years ago I walked into a bar in Betws with a friend. There were two old guys at the bar with the barman. The conversation switched seamlessly from English to Welsh. Undaunted I went to the bar and said "dei peint cwru cweru plesio" (two pints of bitter beer please). One of the guys at the bar looked me up and down and said "I suppose we'd better speak English as your Welsh is sh*te..."

Rosemary Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 11:31am

HAHA oh Rupert you made me laugh :) I've seen many such Welshmen smile into their pints as some poor unsuspecting soul attempts, what is, an extremely difficult language. Thanks for that x

Rosemary Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 11:32am

Sorry that was meant to read Norman ooooops (wish there was an edit button on here...)

Rupert Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 10:13am

Old Man maybe you aren't being selfish enough?! My therapist is always telling me that I should tell people it's their problem rather than assuming it's mine! I know your situation is different and you obviously care very much but don't let it all rest on your shoulders. You only have one life (as she also says) and you owe it to yourself to be happy. Rupert

Christine Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 10:39am

Hello OMATS; I have not read the other comments...I was simply struck by your words and the "co-incidence" of you writing about a cold wet Welsh hillside, so close to St David's in Wales, one of the most important things the saint said was "Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd" which translates as "LOOK AFTER THE LITTLE THINGS" the implications of this immediately hit me between the eyes as being relevant to you in your situation, right now...xx

Rosemary Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 2:56pm

I've not heard "Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd" before Christine but will definitely be filing it away in my memory bank. Thank you for sharing x

Little Black Cat Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 10:57am

Oh this resonates with me! I feel overwhelmed too, my son is in counselling for anxiety and depression and I have had my own battle with depression far to recently to not be affected. But to feel worthwhile I need to 'help' and resolve the issues he has, I can't they are his and he's 17.
I try to remember that meeting friends, walking in the fresh air help, I try to remember I am not at fault when things fall apart again.
I'm getting my raincoat now and heading into the storm.

Try to do some of the things that 'help' you so you have the capacity to 'help' those that need your support. Good luck!

Rosemary Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 11:27am

Hello OMATS. I'm sitting here in a very wet Wales thinking of your heartfelt, honest blog. I agree with the comments above and would just like to add that one of the most useful things I ever heard was an old Polish proverb 'Not my circus; not my monkeys'. I have tried to mend and rescue for many years but sometimes we just have to let others deal with their own circus giving us the time to rest and be quiet.
As Rupert wisely says – perhaps you are not being selfish enough. After all we have to look after ourselves first to be able to look after others. I hope you found your quiet time up here in the hills and found some healing in nature.

Rose Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 1:52pm

Please don't give yourself a hard time about the medication...I don't think anyone else is judging you, more impressed by your tenacity. xxx

Rosemary Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 2:54pm

Agree Rose, I am definitely impressed and can't imagine any of us would judge you negatively OMATS x

Dragonfly Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 3:59pm

Dear Om&ts - what a powerful and honest blog which resonates with me. I know the beautiful, desolate place as I honeymooned there 31 years ago and because I've tried to reduce my medication in the past fortnight and couldn't cope with the discontinuation symptoms. You speak so proudly of your parents and are evidently doing your best by them. Others certainly don't cope as you (and I!) imagine they do. We're all human and fallible and I wish you well

The Gardener Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 6:30pm

Oh dear, old man and the sea, you mirror my current situation totally - I have not gone off for peace from responsibilities but my responsibility has gone off to respite. You would seem to be a most 'caring' person, in modern parlance. Re medication, here in France Doctors are VERY fierce about stopping 'brutalement' by forgetting or not bothering - if it's a course, and not just to cure a headache most unwise to stop for any reason. On the other hand, decades ago, I had been taking Vallium for years. I went for a repeat prescription, there was a new doctor, a fierce young Scot. I asked for my prescription 'what do you want it for'. Er, well, I always have it. He asked me if I was depressed - had to admit I was not. Right, you don't need it. Generated a fair panic, because that bottle of pills was my safety valve, and without it I could panic. Mr G was due to go to respite today - I talked to the excellent geriartric Doctor a week ago - he was aware what I was coping with because Mr G was awful at respite as well. The Doctor insisted I had rest, so respite brought forward. But I am struggling - can't sleep, too much concern for the future, And the Doc was right, I am exhausted, just knit and listen to the radio. Spoke to eldest son today - said I was harrowed at seeing the state his Pa and my husband was in. During every respite I plan - for a better future for us both - knowing that there can NOT be any improvement. I don't feel guilty, but still cannot accept fully that my husband has gone somewhere, and has no feelings for anyone. I do hope your week re-charges your batteries, that the lack of medication has no serious effects and that you may be more 'sanguine' than me (can't think of a better word) and accept the situation with equanimity. I have been guilty of being terribly rude about the Welsh - mostly because I could never find any decent food when I was forced to travel in that admitedly beautiful country. My father is buried in one of the most beautiful cemeteries - Brecon - looking over two rivers to the Beacons, lovely.

Leah Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 9:41pm

Gardener I do hope you get some respite and peace and you turn off your over active mind and just sit! Once again your words touch me and others, Take care.x

Tutti Frutti Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 8:08pm

Dear Old Man as so many have said don't feel guilty about taking the break you needed. I hope it did you good. I am concerned about you missing your meds though. (I once accidentally ran out of mood stabilisers and didn't take them for 5 days without realising until too late how bad the consequences could be.) I hope you are ok.

I also wanted to thank Brum Mum for her reply to me yesterday which I only read today.

Love TF x

OMATS Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 9:03pm

Dear all. This was my first blog. I use Moodscope intermittently and I like to write as it can slow my thoughts down. I was worried when I submitted it, that it would lack the light and optimism that I often see in the words of others. Rather wonderfully you've all given me something from that failed week I couldn't have hoped for. A perspective beyond my inner critic, and reassurance that it's okay to not be okay. The perspective and reassurance will be challenged and fade and seem pointless again. But somewhere there will be a little nugget left, something to build on. Thank you.

LP Fri, Mar 3rd 2017 @ 11:25pm

I really connected with your blog, I've been in the situation a few times and wondered how I'd cope haven forgotten my tablets, thinking maybe I'll be ok away from day to day stress. Wanting to get away from what/who I associate with stress, yet feeling isolated and alone having made that choice.. I liked your awareness and recognition and agree with others who want to reach out and protect you from harsh self judgement. Familiar to many of us, maybe being brought up with harshness and criticism. At the same I recognise that sometimes we want to express these feelings even though we know how unhelpful they can be. Thank you for sharing your experience. How did you do? LP

Sally Sat, Mar 4th 2017 @ 5:59am

I absolutely loved this blog. Partly because of the Welsh connection and description, and partly because of what it touched on.
It seems to me that we make a decision based on need, and to get away from an exhausting situation and get a much needed break must've seemed wonderful, OMATS. Until the Sertraline prescription was messed up/ not "delivered" .( It happened to my sister, with medication which for her is a life saver...she had no end of trouble and it was weekend, to boot.)
Then you started to self- accuse, I read it this way...(did I get this right?) ...the lack of medication made you view your situation as one in which you were being selfish, at a time when you were needed back home, and you suffered pangs of guilt and self doubt and worthlessness? Perhaps I am putting too many words into your mouth?
Well anyway, the "failed experiment " you describe is typical of us Moodscopers in that we sometimes still think it is not ok to need medication when it is for the head, not the body! I work with two people who feel deep shame at being depressed. But we wouldn't feel that shame if the illness were physical, a broken arm/leg, & so forth.
Crazy world of health where just because it's physical, it's acknowledgeable and acceptable, and because it's mental, it's reprehensible and something to feel diminished by!
Thank you OMATS for giving us this valuable insight and cameo. Go well.

Suzy Sat, Mar 4th 2017 @ 10:27am

What an insightful blog!

Clarity amidst all the sadness and messiness. I even wonder if you'll look back on your "failed" time away and somehow recall only the good bits?

Hope you enjoyed a walk or two or a single malt by the fire in the Royal Oak hotel in Betws y Coed. ;o)

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